UNICEF working to keep children affected by floods in Sri Lanka safe

Cheryl Sanders
May 30, 2017

Thousands of children and families have been forced from their homes after flash floods and landslides hit south-west Sri Lanka on May 25.

When the rain has eased on Sunday and Monday, rescue workers used the break in the weather to deliver much-needed aid to the worst-hit areas.

Just over 5,500 houses have suffered structural damage or been completely destroyed, according to official figures.

Sri Lankans fleeing the floods say in many cases everything has been lost.

With more rain expected on Monday, rescuers were racing to evacuate villagers from the most vulnerable areas and emergency teams were rushing to distribute aid to almost half a million people driven out of their homes by the island's worst flooding in a decade.

The death toll in Sri Lanka increased to 160 after monsoon rains - the worst in 14 years - caused mass flooding and mudslides, the Red Cross said Monday.

Hopes of finding those missing, most of whom were in areas struck by landslides, appeared to be diminishing.

Water supply minister Rauf Hakeem said 40 percent of those affected did not have access to piped drinking water, and there was an urgent need to clean contaminated wells in flood-affected areas.

A part of a flooded highway exit is seen in a village in Matara, Sri Lanka May 29, 2017.

"The water levels are still quite high", she said.

Over 100,000 people have been evacuated to safe shelters.

The United Nations Children's agency, UNICEF says it is reaching the most vulnerable communities affected by the floods in Sri Lanka with clean water and safe shelters as the island's worst flooding in years has impacted nearly 500,000 people, many of them children. A third ship was expected later Tuesday, officials said.

He said that foreign assistance is continuing to flow in with India, China and Pakistan among the countries sending ship loads of humanitarian aid.

The United Nations said it would donate water containers, water purification tablets and tarpaulins while the World Health Organization will support medical teams in affected areas.

Japan had promised portable electricity generators and a team of experts to help with the relief work, the ministry said issuing a statement.

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